These Colleges are Stepping It Up by Offering Allergen-Free Food Options

  • By Savannah Dowell Springible Contributor
  • Reading Time About 3 minutes
  • PostedSeptember 21, 2018
  • Category

Food allergies are a common threat for many people. From dairy, to nuts, to shellfish, having an allergy can complicate life in the kitchen and in a restaurant. It’s not only about the ingredients that you are ingesting. It’s equally as important to be sure that the kitchen supplies used to prepare the food have not come into contact with any allergens.

At Tulane University, Chef Travis Johnson and Dietician Kelsey Rosenbaum refuse to let allergens stand in their way of providing tasty and healthy meals to many of the students that dine in their kitchen every day. With much thought and care, the two have created options for students to enjoy, and they don’t have to think twice about how it was prepared.

“Food allergies increased 50% from 1997 to 2011,” Kelsey Rosenbaum explains. The cause for this increase is not certain, but what is certain is that limitation on ingredients does not have to limit taste! Johnson and Rosenbaum have made sure of that by providing a food station in the Tulane cafeteria for all students, with and without allergies, to enjoy. By eliminating the top eight allergens that cause 90% of allergic reactions in all people, they are providing options that accommodate all possible allergies at one time.

Top 8 Food Allergens:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Crustacean Shellfish
  • Tree Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy

This response to an increasingly common threat provides parents a relief when sending their kids away to college. Check out some helpful tips, along with more information, from Chef Travis Johnson and Dietician Kelsey Rosenbaum here.

Below are a few more colleges and universities that offer great options for students with dietary restrictions.

The University of Dayton has created a space known as the A+ Room where students with food allergies or intolerances can get something to eat. Gluten and dairy free items along with several vegan options are available in the room. Students are able to make a quick snack on their own if they do not have time to go to the dining hall and request a special meal from the staff. The A+ Room, which stands for “Allergy Friendly, PLUS no more worries”, is equipped with microwaves and toasters to prevent cross contamination. The students also have access to an on campus dietician that will answer any nutrition questions.

Three million Americans currently suffer from nut and peanut allergies. In response to the apparent need for peanut safety, Stanford University is the first university in the country to offer a dining facility on campus that is peanut free. Like Dayton University, Stanford has a gluten free micro kitchen available to students so that they can finish preparing their own meals. Stanford also has dietary meal options for students who have religious dietary restrictions such as kosher and halal options.

UC Davis offers special diet meals like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and a low-microbial option. Low microbial diets are great for people who have a decreased immune or at risk of developing a food-related infection. Cancer patients who have undergone chemo and radiation therapy are ideal candidates who would benefit from a low-microbial diet.

George Mason University is committed to developing a university-wide food allergy management program and is a participant of a College Food Allergy Program. Twelve pilot colleges across the country were chosen in 2015 to participate in the Food Allergy and Research Education’s College Food Allergy Program. That number has since increased to 23. You can find the complete list of participating schools here.

The University of Virginia has allergen awareness preparation stations that are colored in purple, the universal color for allergy awareness, to signify allergen safe zones. The university also has food allergy guide for parents that provides guidelines of how students can find meal accommodations for food allergies.

NOTE: This feature cites remarks made from an article at WWLTV.

Do you have helpful tips on food allergies? We’d love to hear from you!